VVS Laxman: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

VVS Laxman springs to a quick defence.

What he said:

“When an Aussie sledges it’s aggression but if an Indian sledges its unnecessary and foolish.”

What he really meant:

“One team’s aggro is another team’s folly, is it?”

What he definitely didn’t:

“I agree. The Indian side should go gently into the night.”

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Mark Taylor: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Mark Taylor is neither cuddle-some nor huddle-some.

What he said:

“I’ll put that in the same category as the third new ball. Over-rated. Huddles are over-rated.”

What he really meant:

“I could cuddle my team-members all day but without a plan in the huddle, we’d all be in a muddle.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“It’s cold out in the middle, let’s huddle more often.”

Shane Warne: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Shane Warne is a hard man to please.

Shane Warne
Shane Warne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What he said:

“He has to change his body language, it needs to be stronger – he looks a bit soft. He needs to puff his chest out a bit, look harder.”

Shane Warne stirred up a storm with his criticism of Mitchell Starc in the second Test at Brisbane against India.

The former Australian leg-spinner and all-time great was commentating for Nine Network.

Darren Lehmann was among those to react.

Lehmann said:

“Soft. He used those words? That’s very harsh…I will take it up with Shane myself.”

Starc’s girlfriend Australian women’s cricketer Alyssa Healy was quick to come to his defence on Twitter.

She said:

Shane Warne, forced to back-pedal, responded on Twitter:

Starc appeared to respond positively to the brouhaha scoring a fifty in Australia’s batting essay and cleaning out first innings centurion Murali Vijay for 27.

What Warne really meant:

“Fast bowlers are meant to intimidate the opposition, look them in the eye and stare them down. That’s the body language I’m referring to. I was able to do that and I was no pacer!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Cricket used to be a gentleman’s game. What has the world come to?”

Bharat Arun: What he said

Bharat Arun is quite the psychologist.

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What he said:

“Sometimes, being over-aroused is as bad as being under-aroused.”

Team India’s new bowling coach, Bharat Arun, has the readers flummoxed.

What is he talking about?

The Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) at the New South Wales Education and Communities website defines Optimum Arousal thus:

“While anxiety is predominately a psychological state, arousal refers to a physiological state. Arousal can be described as the degree of energy release and the intensity of readiness of the performer or as drive or excitation. There are levels of arousal that can produce optimal performance depends on the sport and the individual. Arousal is a necessary ingredient in sports performance, although its level can wither, facilitate or hinder the execution of specific skills or task components. Arousal levels vary on a continuum from deep sleep to high excitement.

Optimal arousal does not mean maximal arousal. Both over-arousal and under-arousal can contribute to poor performance. An individual will perform a skill most successfully when the level of arousal is optimal for that particular task. A poor performance may be due to low level of arousal, perhaps resulting from distraction, disinterest or a depressed level of motivation. The other end of the spectrum is a state of over-arousal, whereby the athlete is unable to perform the required movement with precision because he/she is excessively tense and unable to concentrate.

Levels of arousal vary considerably between individuals and they respond to different stimuli to raise or lower their levels of arousal. Arousal has drive properties, meaning that the manipulation of factors that affect anxiety can increase or decrease arousal. Generally, athletes who have a high disposition towards anxiety require less arousal than those who have a low disposition towards anxiety.”

Arun was responding to Ravichandran Ashwin being a “very intense cricketer.”

Arun added:

“There is an optimum level of arousal that a player needs to maintain, and that’s what we mean by controlled aggression. When you get too deep into something, you don’t see the little but important things around you. We keep reminding him not to get there and help him maintain the optimum arousal level. Once we do that, he is okay.”

Virat Kohli: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Virat Kohli is a pacific leader.

What he said:

If I’m playing the peacemaker, you can imagine what was going on out there.”

Virat Kohli believes that he has discovered new-found maturity as the skipper of the Indian cricket squad. He was describing his reaction to frayed tempers on the fourth day of the first Test match at Adelaide.

India lost to Australia but not before taking the fight to their opponents.

Kohli scored the most runs by a player in his first match as skipper.

Kohli added:

“But I knew I was the captain and had to step in, otherwise things would have turned ugly. I think I am getting smarter and more mature with age… And with a little bit of captaincy, some grey hair as well. I realised I had to step in and calm things down.”


On his stint as skipper:

“I haven’t slept on all the five days. Honestly, I’ll have 12 more grey hairs in my beard now. But I enjoyed captaincy despite the result… We were going for the win, it didn’t happen. We had the right approach and we are not far away.”

What he really meant:

“I guess it’s a little like Donald Duck conducting Anger Management sessions.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Set a hot-head to cool another.”


Gary Neville: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Gary Neville pub-crawls back and froth from The Dog and Duck to The Red Lion.

What he said:

“It’s the Dog and Duck versus The Red Lion.”

Former Manchester United player and skipper Gary Neville likens the upcoming match-up between Liverpool and Manchester United to a game between two pub sides.

Neville was commenting on United’s poor show against Southampton where they won 2-1 and had them sitting pretty at third spot in the English Premier League standings on the back of five consecutive wins.

Neville said:

“United got away with murder tonight. They look shot of confidence. United will be delighted to sit third and think they will get better.”

Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

United manager Louis Van Gaal warned Neville to “pay attention to his words”.

The Dutchman said:

“He can say everything because he is an ex-legend. But as an ex-legend … or as a legend, you have to know what you are saying. You can interpret that [as you like]. It’s not difficult. He has to pay attention to his words.”

Van Gaal singled out fellow countryman Robin Van Persie for praise following his brace against Southampton but conceded that United were not up to par.

Van Gaal said:

“He was one of the three players on the pitch of Manchester United who were good or maybe very good. He had a great influence on the result. Very positive.

Until now it was his best performance. I hope but I have to say I was very pleased with his performance and also his goals. His second was not so easy because the ball was coming towards his right foot and he connected with his left. A nice touch. Normally you have six, seven, eight players who are good. But today there were too many not good, I believe.”

Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What Neville really meant:

 “If that’s the level of play Liverpool and United are going to bring to the table, I’d be better off catching up with some Sunday League game instead or playing in one myself.”

What he definitely didn’t:

 “You do know that the Dog and Duck and The Red Lion are two of my favourite sports bars, right? That’s where we should watch Sunday soccer, not in some bloody sanitised studio. Soak up the atmosphere, eh?”


Dave Whelan: What he said

Dave Whelan shouts Chinese whispers.

What he said:

“When I was growing up we used to call the Chinese ‘chingalings’. We weren’t being disrespected [sic]. We used to say: ‘We’re going to eat in chingalings.’ The Chinese weren’t offended by that. That was the name everyone in Wigan called it [the first Chinese cafe in Wigan].”

Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan puts his other foot in his mouth with his comments regarding the Chinese community in England.

It was only last month that Whelan told the Guardian that “Jewish people chase money more than everybody else”.

The resulting storm saw the club lose two of its sponsors, Premier Range and Ipro.

Whelan defended his remarks thus:

“It’s telling the truth. Jewish people love money, English people love money; we all love money.”

Whelan was then defending his hiring of Malky Mackay as Wigan’s manager.

Mackay was under investigation by the Football Association for alleged racism and anti-Semitism over his email and text exchanges while in charge of Cardiff City.

One of Mackay’s texts or emails described Cardiff City owner, the Malaysian Vincent Tan, as a chink.

Another referred to the Jewish football agent, Phil Smith, as “a Jew that sees money slipping through his fingers.”

Whelan also said:

“If any Englishman said he has never called a Chinaman a chink he is lying. There is nothing bad about doing that. It is like calling the British Brits, or the Irish paddies.”

Simon Johnson, chief executive at the Jewish Leadership Council, said:

“Unfortunately Mr Mackay and now Mr Whelan have referred to some of the worst old-fashioned tropes which have been used in the past as the basis of anti-Semitism and stereotyping of Jewish people. Mackay used offensive language to insult a fellow participant in football using a tawdry racial stereotype.”

Wong, director of the Manchester Chinese Centre, said:

“I remember at school in the 70s a skinhead kicking me, calling me ‘chinky, chinky,’. It has stopped now; things have changed for the better. We have legal protection against racism and that is important; it is not political correctness. As a football manager, this man should not have said it.”

The British Chinese Project termed Whelan’s latest comments highly offensive.

A statement read:

“Once again, Mr Whelan, rather distressingly, believes he can speak on behalf of Chinese people. His comments are extremely unhelpful in our fight to end discrimination and racism against Chinese people in the UK. Once more, he is using a public platform to tell a wide audience what Chinese people find offensive.

Contrary to what Mr Whelan may believe, the vast majority of our community deem the terms ‘chink’ and ‘chingaling’ highly offensive. For many in the Chinese community these words hold deep emotional resonance, as they are often used in conjunction with racial violence, harassment and hate crimes.

Therefore, to say that ‘there is nothing wrong’ with using such terms or that Chinese people ‘aren’t offended’ by their use, demonstrates a dangerous level of ignorance. We have noticed that Mr Whelan has truly gone out of his way to apologise to the Jewish community, it is a shame that the same level of apology hasn’t been extended to the Chinese community. We can assure him that we are just as angry and just as offended as the Jewish community.”

Wigan, meanwhile, responded on-line saying:

“Wigan Athletic are reminding supporters that it is illegal to swear or use racist, homophobic or sexist language. The club has a zero tolerance on this and any supporter found to be using inappropriate language runs the risk of being ejected from the match.”

Caroline Wozniacki: What she said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Caroline Wozniacki vows not to exhaust herself in 2015.

Caroline Wozniacki at 2008 US Open
Caroline Wozniacki at 2008 US Open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What she said:

“My only problem with Serena is that I’m tired of losing to her. So I told her, Watch out, I’m coming for you in 2015.​”

Caroline Wozniacki nominated her good friend and fellow competitor on the WTA tour Serena Williams for this year’s Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

In a heartfelt  essay, the Dane said:

“When you go through hard times, you find out who your true friends are, and Serena Williams was one of the first people to be there for me when my engagement unraveled last spring. She didn’t have to support me—she has her own life, her own problems and her own career to worry about—but she was there when I needed someone to lean on the most. We talked on the phone, and she told me that it was going to be hard to recover, but that when I did get to the other side, I was going to be a stronger person. And now I am.”

She added:

“Serena is always concerned about her family and friends. She stays true to her word and never changes her personality for anyone or anything. Throughout her career she has remained consistent as a person, and I think that is really admirable.

…When you play against Serena, you are playing against a fighter and a fierce competitor, but off the court, she is great to the fans and her friends and family. I think that shows a great athlete and a proper champion.”

What she really meant:

“And I’ve got marathon muscle twitch fibre to do it too. It’s going to be a long year, Serena.”

What she definitely didn’t:

“I’ve done one better than you this year, Serena. And that’s at the New York City marathon. That’s good enough for me, buddy.”

Emmanuel Petit: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Emmanuel Petit calls for a Franco-German union (well, almost).

What he said:

“France is hypocritical and cowardly. Sometimes I think that if we’d been overrun by the Germans, we’d be better run.”

Former France midfielder Emmanuel Petit is disgusted with the way the French national press have consistently treated his former team-mate Thierry Henry. Henry recently announced that he will be quitting the New York Red Bulls after four and a half years. The French forward is mulling retiring from the game. He is 37.

Petit said:

“In England, they’ve built a statue of Thierry. That means a lot. He is revered there. This bad image [in the French press] of Thierry Henry, it annoys me. What can we reproach Henry for? His handball against Ireland? He helped France qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. He has done nothing.”

He added:

“Wayne Rooney is not hated in England, even though he was not always right in his boots on the field and off. Thierry Henry never had a bad move on the pitch and there were no stories in his private life.

He’s not hated but he’s certainly not loved. He got screwed by the French press after his handball and has since not spoken to the French media.

In France, he has no collusion with the press, so what? Perhaps because he was not smiling when he scored for Les Bleus! Well, that’s what I hate in this country.

I have great difficulty with the French, I have never seen such arrogant, smug, lying and hypocritical people.”

Arsène Wenger, French football manager.
Arsène Wenger, French football manager. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said:

“He(Henry) is an Arsenal man. The best moment certainly of his life and of his career has been experienced here. Certainly one day he will come back here. In what role I don’t know, that is what he has to think about: what direction he wants to give to his next life.”

He added:

“Thierry has all the qualities because he is intelligent, committed, he loves the game. He just has to think, ‘Do I want to sacrifice all the rest of my life to be involved in that job?’

Yes [he can still do a job as a player], but 37 today in the Premier League … I don’t think he wants to do that again.

Thierry has given a lot, he has come out [of the Premier League] with an image that is fantastic. I am not sure that he wants to play again in the Premier League.

I don’t think he wants to carry on. That is a virtual world.”

What Petit really meant:

“Why couldn’t the French press be like the Argentines and simply term the handball incident the ‘Hand of God’ or, at least, the ‘Hand of Henry’? Why be critical of your best player and label him a cheat? It’s a national disgrace.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“I’ve got my history wrong. The French were overrun—twice. That’s why the French press is so rabid towards fellow Frenchmen. They’re Deutsch in disguise.”

Mario Balotelli: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Mario Balotelli hashes it up on Instagram.

What he said:

“Not all Mexicans have a moustache, not all black people jump high and not all Jewish people love money.”

Irreverent Italian striker Mario Balotelli is in the news again for all the wrong reasons.

The Liverpool forward stirred up some soup for himself with a controversial post on Instagram.

Balotelli was quick to delete his post in the face of a barrage of on-line and offline criticism.

And was even quicker to attempt damage control.

His first tweeted response:

He followed it with:

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out has forwarded the offending post to the Football Association. FA has set a deadline of 18:00 GMT Friday the 12th for the Italian to provide a cogent defence for his anti-Semitic remark.

Speaking to BBC, a Liverpool spokesman said:

“We are aware of the posting which has since been promptly deleted by the player. We will be speaking to the player about the issue.”

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said:

“I don’t know hardly anything about it, I have been busy getting the team ready for this game.

I will probably find out more about it.”

Jewish Leadership Council chief executive Simon Johnson, a former FA executive, said:

“We abhor all forms of racism, wherever it is found. We call upon the FA to investigate this offensive social media post and to take action if appropriate if we are to succeed in kicking racism out of football.”

Sports media trainer Alec Wilkinson added his bit:

“There are those that are famous, earn lots of money, with a sky-high profile, who think ‘What can you teach me? I can say what I like, it won’t damage me. We spend a lot of time explaining to them it’s good for them to take the pressure off themselves, to understand how the media works, how you can offend people.”

What Balotelli really meant:

“You know something, I suddenly realized that stereotypes, racial or not, are funny only until they’re not. Now the joke’s on Finally Mario.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“I’m going to grow a moustache, play basketball instead and take a pay cut.”